Cessna, Bell Performance Praised by Textron CEO

CEO Scott Donnelly lauds fourth quarter activity at aviation giants.

Cessna Citation

Cessna Citation

Cessna Citation CJ4

Textron CEO Scott Donnelly on Wednesday pointed to improving fourth-quarter performance at the company's flagship aviation businesses – Cessna Aircraft and Bell Helicopter – for boosting its bottom line in slowly recovering economy.

“We had a solid quarter with good execution especially at Cessna and Bell,” Donnelly said on a conference call with reporters. “We're pleased with continued success in selling commercial aircraft in what has been an uncertain environment over the past three months. As a result, at Cessna we delivered 47 jets in the quarter, up significantly from last year's 26.”

Cessna’s profit increased $37 million primarily due to “favorable performance, higher non-jet volume and a beneficial mix of jets.”

“With the orders we recorded in the quarter, which is typically a slower order period, along with current customer activity, we remain on track to achieve our target of a slight increase in deliveries this year, barring no major economic disruptions,” he said.

Donnelly also noted that he’s also pleased with the progress Cessna is making since a change in leadership last summer, when chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton abruptly retired. “Scott Ernest has been on board for about five months now, and I think he and the Cessna team have established a good cadence to drive both operational and sales execution,” Donnelly said of Cessna’s new CEO.

Donnelly also heaped praise on Bell Helicopter’s fourth-quarter performance, noting that Bell delivered 26 commercial helicopters in the quarter versus 24 in the same period in 2010. Bell’s backlog at the end of the third quarter was $6.4 billion, down $588 million from the end of the second quarter of 2011, reflecting military deliveries during the quarter, as well as a $781 million reduction to backlog to correct an accounting error made in 2009, which “recorded as backlog the full value of a V-22 contract rather than Bell’s proportionate share.”

“The commercial order environment of Bell is holding up fairly well, given the macro environment, so we also remain on track to post a slight increase in commercial deliveries at Bell this year,” Donnelly said.